That’s the premise for a new campaign “You Gave, Now Save,” which is focused on reaching the millions of the seniors in the US who are “missing out on more than $20 billion in aid that could help pay for food, medicine and heating, simply because they don’t know it’s there,” according to this Reuters news story.
A collaborative effort between the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), “You Gave, Now Save” wants to spread the word about practical resources available to seniors:
- Eldercare Locator — Find help in your community via this site, which allows visitors to search by zip code, city/state, or topic (ranging from Alzheimer’s to elder abuse prevention to legal assistance to volunteerism).
- BenefitsCheckup — This benefits screening site allows older adults and their caregivers to determine their eligibility for government assistance programs. Per the NCOA, almost $1.2 billion in benefits goes unclaimed, either because “those receiving one benefit often didn’t realize they were eligible also for another.” Another major loss: the 1.7 million seniors who are not receiving Part D Extra Help via Medicare, which, per the article, offers an annual average value of $4,000.
Other federally-funded programs offering support that many seniors need (but miss out on) include SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income via the Social Security administration). According to the article, the stigma of receiving entitlements, the perceived complexity of the application process, and a misunderstanding of eligibility are among the barriers.
Unfortunately, as we know all too well, government funding for senior support programs won’t last forever, and we are not advocating a reliance on government funding in any way. In fact, as we said in our recent post, Senior Care & Housing Costs Rise While Funding Drops, the best preparation for an uncertain financial future is being proactive and planning ahead.
But with nearly one in 10 seniors living below the federal poverty line (per 2010 and 2011 Census data), the time is now to seize any and all benefits while they’re available.